Currently reading: Private hire firm plots self-driving cars in London by 2021
Addison Lee will partner with self-driving start-up Oxbotica to develop autonomous tech

Private hire taxi firm Addison Lee is aiming to offer self-driving transportation services in London by 2021 as part of a deal with autonomous software specialist Oxbotica.

The two companies have reached an agreement to collaborate on the development and operation of self-driving vehicles in the capital. They will start by working together to create detailed digital maps of 250,000 miles of roads around London, collecting data that could underpin the AI required for self-driving cars. The maps will contain details of features such as traffic lights and kerbs, which will allow self-driving cars to precisely locate themselves.

Addison Lee has around 5000 drivers working in London, whose cars could be fitted with devices to record data that will be processed by Oxbotica’s software. At the moment, the deal is focused on software development, rather than developing the hardware for self-driving cars, as US firms such as Uber and Lyft are doing.

Self-driving start-up Oxbotica, which was developed from an Oxford University research project, is involved in several other ventures to develop autonomous software, including the Project Gateway scheme to run driverless Westfield pods in Greenwich. Addison Lee recently helped lead the Merge Greenwich scheme, a government-funded consortium that looked at how autonomous ride-sharing could complement public transport in the area.

Oxbotica boss Graeme Smith called the partnership “a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the UK and beyond”. Once established in London, the two firms are planning to expand the scheme, starting with New York.

Addison Lee Group boss Andy Boland added: “Urban transport will change beyond recognition in the next 10 years with the introduction of self-driving services, and we intend to be at the very forefront of this change by acting now.”

Read more

Behind the wheel of the LEVC TX Taxi

Uber vs London cab vs sat-nav: which is best?

Fully autonomous cars could be a fantasy

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
legless 23 October 2018

To be fair

Even a self-driving car powered by a Casio digital watch can't be any worse than the standard of driving from Addison Lee's current drivers.

erly5 22 October 2018

Self-driving cars in London within 3 years?

Complete and utter fantasy!

SmokingCoal 22 October 2018

Rubbish firm!

Addison Lee should be thinking more about what fuels their cars than anything.